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Published:February 18th, 2014 10:37 EST
Why Was Yvette Smith Shot to Death By Bastrop Deputy Daniel Willis, When Merely Opening the Door?

Why Was Yvette Smith Shot to Death By Bastrop Deputy Daniel Willis, When Merely Opening the Door?

By John G. Kays

Did Bastrop County Deputy Sheriff, 28-year-old Daniel Willis (only on the force since last May), really believe that Yvette Smith, 47,  had a gun in her hand when she answered the door at 105 Zimmerman Avenue (north of Bastrop)? Or did he simply fire his gun based on a 911 call, that there was an argument over a gun (supposedly)? 

 And who placed the 911 call? Was it Yvette Smith herself? A witness in the house said a gun was sitting on a table before Yvette was shot, and remained there after she was shot (by officer Willis); so why did a neighbor claim that the family had no firearms?

There`s lots of ambiguity to go around in this saga, in what looks like another innocent citizen getting shot to death by a trigger-happy law enforcement officer. And it`s not that hard to understand our state of confusion, what with the Bastrop County Sheriff`s office initially issuing a statement saying Yvette had a weapon, then nixing that claim and releasing another press release that says, by the way, the poor woman (who was just opening the door at the command of the sheriff`s department, responding to a 911 call), had no firearm after all. The neighbors now are scared to death of the law and rightly so!

Early local news stories on Sunday were very, very lean and sketchy; this is usually the case, as reporters scramble frantically to learn what happened. Yet, this is always a touchy balancing act, especially when law enforcement is giving one version of the story and neighbors are giving a contrasting version of what was purportedly merely a domestic dispute. 

Early on, I was most curious about the identity of the victim (and you know, her race), but didn`t learn a stitch about who she was until late on Monday, when two photos (maybe more) were posted of Yvette Smith. Furthermore, the tragic, confusing incident, which occurred at about 12:33 AM (2/16/2014), early Sunday morning, finally undergoes a trifle tidbit of elaboration yesterday.

That is, it turns out, the police had responded to a problem, a quarrel, earlier on Saturday, to the same house at 105 Zimmerman Avenue. This jumbles the matter considerably more; it tells me that when the police responded a second time around, they had a good deal more information at their disposal, that would let them know what this was all about. 

While the specifics haven`t been disclosed as to why they were called the first time around, it does add some credence to the notion that the Bastrop Sheriff`s Office should have conducted themselves with cooler heads on the second call.

Gradually, we are learning more about who Yvette Smith (really) is; she didn`t live at this house actually, but was just the girlfriend to the owner of the home (his name is Willie Thomas). Yvette`s son, Anthony Bell, has told the press his mother was a good woman, who worked hard to provide for her family (her last employer was The Austin State Hospital), and didn`t feel comfortable holding guns. 

We now suspect it was Willie Thomas and his son who were in a fiery row over this gun. Willie`s son, his wife, and their three children also live at the Zimmerman Avenue residence, so this adds an additional complication (wrinkle) to the troubling incident, which actually only went down one way (someone is not telling it right here?).

How it really played out resembles more the Grapes of Tantalus to us, at this point; why did witnesses claim the house occupants were complying with a command by sheriff deputies to exit the premises? Why are neighbors saying these people are peaceful and that the neighborhood is a tranquil, mostly crime-free living community? And why are neighbors more afraid of the police, then they are of any local criminals? 

Is there quite a bit of crime in this neighborhood, or rather, is it a peaceful one, relatively crime-free? A former resident has told KVUE the area was inundated with crime (Son of woman killed in Bastrop officer-involved shooting speaks); but which is it? And most of all, we want to know why a fabricated report was filed by the Bastrop County Sheriff`s Office? An innocent African-American mother is now dead because of them.